As injuries begin to mount across the NFL, several players have had to step into more prominent roles than were originally expected of them. Three wide receivers face matchups this weekend that are sure to have them disappointing fans.
When Sammie Stroughter went down for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, second-year wideout Preston Parker stepped up and took his place in the slot. So far the results have been positive, as Parker has racked up 16 catches for 223 yards and a touchdown through the first four weeks of the season.
On Sunday Parker will probably see a drop-off in production against the San Francisco 49ers, as the Buccaneers try to establish running back LeGarrette Blount and get the big man moving early against a very good 49ers run defense.
Thus far quarterback Josh Freeman has checked down to Parker a lot, but as he has put up numbers, more attention has come the young receiver's way. Don't expect his hot start to continue.
With five-time Pro Bowl receiver Andre Johnson out, the Houston Texans will turn to Jacoby Jones to become a playmaker. Jones has been battling a knee injury but should be a full-go on Sunday against the Oakland Raiders.
While he has prototypical size for a receiver and great speed, don't expect miracles from Jones. The 27-year-old is just simply not the playmaker Johnson is, and the Texans are more likely to just ride Pro Bowl running back Arian Foster than try and establish Jones.
Jones is a nice player, but don't believe the hype. Through four games he has just seven catches for 91 yards and no touchdowns. Stepping into a starting role isn't likely to change his numbers dramatically.
Sidney Rice was the Seattle Seahawks' big offseason signing, and the 25-year-old wideout finally got to play in Week 4. After recovering from a shoulder injury, Rice caught three passes for 79 yards and a touchdown against the Falcons. While it was encouraging to see him on the field, you shouldn't expect big things out of the South Carolina product this Sunday.
Rice is a very talented guy, but he has one major drawback: he is relying on Tarvaris Jackson to get him the ball. Under Jackson Seattle has the NFL's 28th-ranked passing attack, and the Seahawks have looked inept trying to move the football.
On Sunday against the New York Giants, don't expect Jackson to be able to find Rice that often. The Giants have an excellent pass rush, so Jackson should be under pressure for most of the day. Rice just simply won't put up big numbers because the ball won't get to him often enough.